Early family depression has harmful long-term effect on children

December 24th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 24 (IANS) The economic crisis in the US could have lasting effects on children from families that fall into poverty, according to a new study.The study of 485 Iowa adolescents over a 10-year period (1991-2001) found that early socio-economic adversity experienced by children contributes to poor mental health by the time they become teens.

The experience disrupted their successful transition into adulthood by endangering their social, academic and occupational attainment as young adults.

“The main finding shows the continuity of family adversity over generations - from family-of-origin to a young adult’s family. In other words, it’s the transmission of poverty,” said K.A.S. Wickrama, an Iowa State University (ISU) professor of human development and family studies and the lead researcher in this project.

“Other articles have shown intergenerational transmission of adversity, but our study also shows the mechanisms that this influence operates through,” he said. “We had the luxury of data to investigate that because we have been following 500 Iowa families since 1989.”

Wickrama collaborated on the study with Fred Lorenz, ISU professor of psychology; Tony Jung, an ISU graduate student in human development and family studies; and Rand D. Conger, a professor of human and community development at the University of California-Davis.

Since 1989, the researchers have been studying more than 500 families from an eight-county area northwest of Ames in the Iowa Youth and Families Project, said an ISU release.

The paper was published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

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